Favorites: A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin

13 May

It started with the television show. Obviously. I watched the first nine episodes of Game of Thrones on demand in a day, while working on cover letters and internship applications. The show’s become an absolute phenomenon for HBO, and rightfully so. Impeccably cast. Incredible script. And Martin retains tight creative control, so the stories are close enough to the books to satisfy the fans.

And then I went on vacation with my extended family, and four of my aunts and uncles were making their way through the book series. So I thought, why not? Reading the series is a commitment – the books can be over a thousand pages, they are incredibly detailed and there are more characters than you can keep track of.  But with the help of the wiki, I made it through.

It’s so worth it. One of the things I like best about the books is that so many people have read them. Discussing your theories on who Jon Snow’s mother is, who will ultimately end up with the crown, who will be killed off next, who will end up marrying who – it’s fun. It’s exciting. People love to talk about it. And Martin keeps you guessing – you can theorize all you want, but he’ll probably toss in something unexpected that totally destroys your theories.

The characters feel like people you know, in a fantasy world.  The sibling rivarly between the golden Lannisters, and the ironborn Greyjoys,  is uncomfortably familiar.  The relationship between the Starks and their direwolves closely mirrors the way we feel about our own pets. Jon Snow’s conflicting desires between the Stark family that raised him, and his brothers on the wall, is that struggle to strike the right balance between family and friends every teenager has. Catelyn Stark, as annoying as she can be, is a mother in the truest sense of the word – she directs battles and nags her children.

My favorite characters are probably everyone’s favorites. Jon Snow’s adventures beyond the wall, infiltrating the wildlings, seeking out the nightwalkers and trying to protect the realm while everyone ignores him, is what I look forward to most. And Arya’s a close second, because for a young girl she certainly gets herself into – and out of – a number of precarious situations. Tyrion, the dwarf (played by Emmy winning Peter Dinklage in the show) is everyone’s favorite for good reason: he’s smart, winning, and hilarious. You can’t help but root for him.

There are two possible caveats to reading the series. First, if you’re watching the show, the show exactly follows the books. So you’ll always know what’s going to happen next.  And second, I have so many questions! I don’t think they’ll ever all be answered. I feel like this is going to be a Lost scenario – the book series has expanded to encompass an entire world, but I just don’t see how Martin has enough time to write the thousands of pages necessary to answer my questions adequately. I’m afraid I’m going to be left hanging in the end.

Don’t delay! You should read the books before they start to fade from popular culture. Otherwise no one will want to discuss your Fire and Ice theories with you.




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